(Carum carvi – Family Umbelliferae)
Caraway seeds come from a plant indigenous to West Asia and the Mediterranean region, and may be the oldest cultivated spice plant of Europe. It is now grown mainly in eastern and southeastern Europe, Germany, the Netherlands, North Africa, and the US; but it is the Germans who use it the most. Caraway seeds are the fruits of the plant cultivated for that purpose. These seeds are split and dried to form the basic spice. The flavour is warm and sweet, but with a biting taste. It is an ingredient in the Arabic spice mixture called ‘tabil’ and the North African paste ‘harissa’; but it is used mainly in breads and cheeses. The main constituent of its essential oil responsible for its flavour is carvone, which is now produced synthetically.